What To Do With The Feels. All Of Them.

 I am going to be painfully transparent for a moment…

Are you ready?

Alright. Please don’t judge me.

I am almost always preoccupied with fear that I might simply go crazy.


Drop my basket.

Crack up.

Bug out.

Melt down.

Wig out and spaz.

Oh, man. It’s the truth, though. Honest to goodness.

And here’s the thing: I think most women are afraid—silently, of course—of the same thing.

I don’t really understand the root of the fear, or why all the emotions are always there, bubbling just below the surface, ready to spew out all the nasty and crazy and tantrums that we stuff deep down. Hormones? Maybe. But we can only blame hormones for so long, right? Honestly folks, where does it all come from?
If you’re like me, the end result of hiding your basket of crazy is insecurity and anti-depressants. And guess what? I HATE TAKING MEDS!! I do. Well, I did…and now that I no longer take them, there’s this huge fear that I’m slowly losing my mind because I STOPPED taking what made me “normal”. No one wants to feel that they can’t manage to be “normal” without the help of chemical medications, right? That doesn’t make you feel confidant that you’re okay…or sane…or even—should I dare admit it?—a good person?

Hormonal imbalances?

Chemical imbalances?

Vitamin deficiencies?

Suppressed childhood pain?

Unresolved anger?

unchecked anxiety?

Who doesn’t deal with a handful of these? Or all of them? We are freaking human, right?

I wish I could just tell people, “My name is Gia…and I’m usually afraid that I’m not a good person…and that I’ll unravel one day into an emotional mess that can’t be put back together. What about you?”

Or, “My name is Gia. I’m angry. Super irritable and angry. I’m not sure why. What about you?”

If that doesn’t fly over well, maybe I can lead with, “My name is Gia. I barely make it through the day being a good mom…and when I lay down at night, I am convinced that I will do better the next day. If that doesn’t happen, I want to shrivel up and cry because of the heaviness of the failure. How about you?”

There are some days that I can barely hold onto all the feels. The weight of it is suffocating. And where is the joy? There isn’t any. That’s the problem. That’s the solution.

In Hebrew, “Joy” is Chadah, which means rejoicing—gladness, joy. The definition kind of comes with instructions: rejoice…gladness.

I don’t know what every other person’s story is. I can’t sit here and pretend to know the answer as to why some of us suffer greatly from depression or anger or anxiety. I don’t know your story, and I’m not even sure I understand the full scope of my story. But the hard truth that I am being forced to swallow is this:

There is a deep wound in my heart and the person I blame is God.

I cannot grasp the full measure of joy that I am meant to have. I cannot fully rejoice in God—not in a way that would bring healing and restoration to my body, mind and soul. I struggle with gladness. I struggle with peace. I struggle with love and affection. I struggle. Hard. Because I refuse to give ALL my heart to Him.


Seeing that last statement staring at me just made me realize I cannot adequately explain my thoughts in this little blog post—not without writing a book. There are too many reasons why I just had to admit that hard truth to myself. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with childhood heartbreaks that kept me holding God at arms length. And then all the heartbreaks that followed…

We are so broken, friends. I am so broken. I am a mess but also a woman that wants to love with all my heart, yet fails to love with all my heart because my heart hurts. I don’t know how to fix it, which causes anger and frustrations and anxiety and depression. I don’t know how to rejoice because my shoulders feel too heavy to even try at times. I don’t want to swallow pills hoping a cocktail of chemicals can heal it, because I know it can’t. I’ve tried that…and the heartache was still throbbing.


 I guess I just open my silly mouth and speak to Jesus.

“I’m hurting. I need you. Sometimes I don’t trust you, and I feel so bad for not trusting you. Sometimes, I’m afraid you won’t be there for me…take care of me…protect me. And I feel so bad for thinking such thoughts. Because you’re my God, you’re my father, you’re my creator! I should trust you. Right? And I want to…because I don’t like how I feel. So, today, I hand all this junk over and I’m going to try to ignore it. I’m going to close my eyes to the giant mountain of fear and failure that I usually cling to. I’m going to walk away from it. Just for today. Alright? Today, I am going to choose joy. I’m going to choose to rejoice in the fact that TODAY you will hold all my feels…all my pain…all my hurt…because You love me enough. Just for today, I’ll laugh instead. I will giggle and hold my babies tighter. I will snuggle up to my husband and let him snuggle me back. I will breathe.

Tomorrow, I can’t make any promises because I’m a pretty weak human, but I will try again to hand all my junk over to you. One day at at time, right? Each morning, if You would just whisper to my heart a gentle reminder, I will hand you all my crazy mess…and attempt to rejoice and have joy instead.”

That’s all I’ve got. That’s the only solution I can come up with. It’s easy to quote a verse and read an inspirational line from some smarty pants theologian. Me? I’m not a smarty pants. I’m just a mess that will fight with all my stubborn willpower to hand it over to Him every single morning.

Starting today.


Waiting On Birds

I spent some time this morning reading the story of Noah. When I reached the part about sending out the dove to search for dry land, The Lord spoke to my heart. You see, it only rained for 40 days and 40 nights, yet Noah and his family were on the boat for a year. What an insane amount of time in the  light of the destruction and complete annihilation that happened so quickly! Imagine that. What must have Noah’s family thought? After all, God was talking to Noah, not his sons and family. Surely their hearts must have failed them when the water began to rush around the boat and the skies grew dark. And all that time, trapped on a boat…floating aimlessly, everything that was once familiar hidden and gone beneath violent waves. As time passed, Noah's family watched as their patriarch sent out birds in hopes they would return with a sign and a promise that life was about to change and the storms would be behind them.

This is when I stopped reading. I’ve read this story so many time. Oh, but friend, this story just gripped my 32 year-old heart with fierce feelings!




Waiting on the storms to pass and the hope of new life to be on the horizon. That is the lesson of my entire adult life! I think about Noah's poor family and how frustrated they must have been. This is what we don’t see in the story that scripture accounts: We don’t see Noah’s reaction when a dove returns empty handed. We don’t see him turn and look at his expectant family. We don’t know if their shoulders slump and tears build up in their eyes. We don’t know if they grow angry and bitter. Did they sit down defeated? Or did they nod with solid resolution and bear up under the disappointment? Did their hearts fail them with the size and breadth of the storm? Did they manage to tackle a shred of joy and hold dear to it?

Dang joy. Man. It’s pretty hard to possess when there are no signs that the end is near.

I thought about writing about joy now—transition from this dark depressing talk of floods and life storms and bring a bit of hope into the gloomy picture. But I don’t want to. That’s too easy. When do we ever find ourselves in the middle of a raging storm and easily get ourselves out to safety quickly? It takes time and patience, faith and trust in a God that we choose to believe is still holding us in the palm of His hand. Because, dear heart, we are in a broken world filled with plenty of gloomy days that are going to swallow us up without thought to our tender hearts. Maybe the rainy days are short, and maybe they stretch on for weeks…months…years? Our silly birds might return to us without a hope of a promise….

Instead, I will say this: The same God we believe will continue to hold us in the palm of His hand is holding the flood waters in the palm of His hand, too.

I will admit that I have stood at the helm of my own boat and sent out bird after bird after bird. Sometimes they return with a hope of a promise, other times they come back with nothing. It's a sad, frustrating place to be, especially when the storm has stopped raging and the flood waters have dried up and you can see the land stretched out before you. It's hard to remain in the boat with legs ready to run. Sometimes, God keeps us stuck inside the boat...waiting...

He knows the perfect time. He sees the big picture. He drafts out the plan with His fingertips. But let's be honest, waiting isn't easy.

But it is worth it. 

So send out your bird—your prayerful petitions—and tackle whatever shred of joy you can find as you wait for the flood waters to dry up. If you've waited for what seems like forever, wait a little longer. Just a little longer...

And find the joy...

Find the joy in the sound of the rain and the closeness of family and friends as you hunker down and lay low. Find the joy in the peace that you don't have to know what is happening next, but rest in the peace that you're not alone. Dance, sing, shout, play...run in the tiny little confined places...and hug and love and giggle.

It will be worth it. I promise.

Fight for the joy as you wait.


Captain Dalton :: A Story of Faith and War

As I prepare my novel for release, I would like to share sneak peeks with you. It's a rather complicated novel, as it's about war. War is a tangled ball of yarn...messy and filled with as much emotion as there are knots to untangle. It isn't simply death and explosions, flesh ripped apart and men taking careful aim of the enemy. War is filled with romance and love, too. It is haunted by ghosts of the past, painful memories, insecurities and childhood fears. In war you find religion, courage and valor...

So this is not simply a war story, or a love story, but rather a story of humans laid bare on the front
lines of our history.

Today, meet Captain Dalton stationed in the Philippines prior to the start of WWII. As this scene unfolds, Pearl Harbor has just been bombed and the Japanese have now turned their forces on the American military stationed in the Philippines. This is the very first time Captain Dalton has ever seen a battlefield. He has just fallen in love with a beautiful nurse...and all of the emotion and reality and fear has just crashed down at his feet.

While Captain Dalton is purely a work of fiction spun up in the creative (scary) parts of my brain, General Wainwright was very much real. The account of him walking proudly across the parade ground even as bombs exploded around him, really did happen. Ole' Skinny, as his men called him, was a lesser known hero in the sagas of WWII and it's Pacific Theater. I include him throughout the novel.


12:35 p.m.  Fort Stotsenburg

What Peter found when he brought the jeep to a stop at Fort Stotsenburg was the stuff war stories are made of. Japanese fighter planes were swooping off in the direction of Clark Air Field where P-40s were struggling to get off the ground and fight back. Bursts from antiaircraft fire filtered into puffs, never making it high enough to help ward off the attack. Men were swearing as they ran for the protection of foxholes, one of which Peter promptly jumped into, ducking for cover. He didn’t wear a helmet, and he wasn’t carrying a weapon as he stared out at the world around him. His breath caught in his throat. His body went numb. Lord Almighty, where are you?

The ground shook as bombs fell all around. One minute a soldier would be running for cover, and a bomb would fall just in front of him. When the smoke cleared, Peter found only a hole in the ground where the man had once been. Bodies were strewn everywhere, flying through the air with each deadly blast. Men cried in pain, desperate for help, while others were paralyzed with an overwhelming fear. From across the airfield, Peter could scarcely see the lone figure of a young airman standing rooted in plain sight. His mouth moved with unintelligible words—a prayer, maybe—and his eyes stared off into the distance, unblinking. Peter shouted for him to move, to take cover, but it was no use. Before Peter could even move, a nearby explosion swept the man away. Peter sank deep in the foxhole and dropped his face into his hands. The sounds, the sights, the smells were more than a budding officer could have imagined.

Lord? Are You here with me? You have to be…

“Sir, get down!”
Peter scurried up, dirt showering down on him. He tasted earth in his mouth as he peeked out, spying a tall man walking across the parade ground as if the battle wasn’t even happening. “General Wainwright?” he whispered, shocked. What’s he doing?

The last string of Japanese planes were strafing the field, bullets ricocheting and bombs exploding. Bits of palm trees and acacia splintered around Major General Wainwright as he walked toward the headquarters building…strong, tall, and unwavering. As he made his march across the parade ground, a man fell near him, taken down by a piece of shrapnel. Wainwright stopped, scooping his cap from his head, bent down to check on the man, and waved for help. “You’ve done your country proud, young man,” Wainwright shouted to be heard over the chaos. “Help is on its way.”

He didn’t take his eyes off his commander until he disappeared into headquarters. Bombs still rained down and planes continued to strafe. That’s when Peter decided he didn’t want to spend the battle in a foxhole, especially when there were men falling all around him. Snatching up a helmet that rolled nearby, he secured it and hopped out of the trench. Keeping close to the ground, he made his way toward a man crying out for help, shrapnel embedded in his right leg. When Peter was closer, he noticed shattered bone exposed in the man’s leg. He swallowed a wave of sickness. “It’s all right!” he said, reaching for the man’s trembling hand. “I’m going to get you help!”

The man’s eyes were wide, white in pools of blue. His lips were chattering, the blood gone from his face. “I’m going to die! God, I’m going to die!”

“You won’t!”

But the man screamed at the top of his lungs, hot tears streaming down his face. Peter carefully heaved the man onto his shoulders, stood straight up, and headed toward an area where medics worked frantically to clear a spot for an ambulance. The air was hot, electrified, and pulsing with the fear of hundreds of soldiers. He gritted his teeth and pressed on. Lord Almighty, show me you’re here!

“Lay him on this litter here!” a medic ordered Peter when he neared.

“He’s hurt bad.”

“They all are.”

Peter hunkered down, easing the man on his back onto the filthy litter. “You’re gonna be okay now,” he promised, but the look on the man’s face stopped Peter cold. He was dead.
Lord, where are you?


What happened to Dalton right before this scene? He finally kissed the nurse he has fallen in love with, promised to marry her, body surfed at dawn, stained lilies with iodine, and saved a redhead from a drunken lieutenant while dancing under a starry night sky to Count Bassie and Duke Ellington. Not all at once, of course.  What happens to Dalton after this scene? Oh man. It's a mess...and gorgeous...and tearful...and inspiring. I think.


TBT :: People Matter

I was reading in my devotion time this morning about genealogies. It was fitting, actually, as I've been geeking out for a few months tracing back my own family lines. It has truly been an adventure for a time traveler like me. Did you ever know why God made a point to include long and boring lists of genealogies throughout the bible? Abraham begot Isaac who begot Jacob who begot Joseph, and so on? I don't think it is just to numb your brain to sleep when you've been over caffienated. I think it's because people matter to God. All of them. He called them by name...mentioned their years lived...recorded them...

Isn't that wonderful?

So, I think each Thursday from here on out (I hope), I will pick a random person that I have uncovered from my own line. It might turn out to be painfully boring for you readers, but it's worth the risk. Might as well breathe life into some of these forgotten souls, right?

So, today, April 9, 2015, I introduce to you one Findley Ewing of Scotland who married Miss Jane Porter in 1685. Findley was part of the Clan Ewen of Scotland, which is pretty cool because I am thrilled to have Scottish heritage.

In 1690, Findley fought for William of Orange in the Battle of the Boyne where he was recognized for a specific act of bravery. Because of his act of valor, King William of Orange presented him with a silver-handled sword. This sword remained with the family who later immigrated to New Jersey where Doctor Thomas Ewing (Findley's great grandson) wore it upon his belt during the American Revolution. Soon after, it was stolen by a slave and melted for its metal.

Why does this matter to me? Well, a few short months ago I didn't even know that Findley Ewing existed, but now I do. And not only do I know he was real, but I've learned so much about other Ewings from his line; men of valor and standard bearers for queens; men who passed on so much to their children and to their children...and eventually to my Grandpa and me.

My Grandpa, one Bernard Gale Ewing born in Lee County, Virginia never fought a battle or was awarded a silver-handled sword for valor. But for heaven's sakes, he might just be the best Ewing to yet live! Like me, a few months ago he didn't even know his heritage or know anything about brave Ewings that were powerful, courageous, loyal and true. Scottish? None of us saw that coming! But there is no mistaking what has been handed down from generation to generation. My grandpa has been a good man, a standard bearer for the men around him, and someone who is forgiving and deeply kind. Those things, in their own right, require valor. Love is courageous. Forgiveness is courageous. Kindness is courageous. How do I know he lives up to the hype of Clan Ewen? Because one of Findley Ewing's grandchildren wrote the following poem and it sounds as if he personally new my grandpa...

Life's Greatest Battle

I've fought a thousand different wars
Within my frail and troubled soul

But leaned the toughest of them all
Was that great fight for self control

To face a knave with cutting tongue
Then smile and still be just plain you

You'll find takes more than faulty man
To win such battles all day through

Thus I have learned, if each new day
Life's greatest war you hope to win

Just smile, forgive, forget and love
And try your best to follow Him. 

~W. Frances Ewing